Goodell gets Saints’ suspensions right

Roger Goodell has once again proven why he is the best commissioner in sports.

News broke Wednesday morning that the NFL had suspended Saints’ coach Sean Payton for the entire season and former defensive coordinator Greg Williams indefinitely for a crush-for-cash bounty system that rewarded money for “knock-out hits” on opposing players. Payton is the first coach in NFL history to ever be suspended.

The Saints’ will also lose second round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, $500,000 and general manager Mickey Loomis will miss eight games next season.

This is the harshest penalties ever handed down in professional sports history with suspensions for individual players still to come. This makes NBA commissioner David Stern’s suspensions after the 2004 Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons brawl look like child’s play.

And there is little doubt Goodell got this one right, though I would have went further.

Injuries are going to happen in football. It’s a violent game where muscle-bound men hit each other as hard as they can, but those injuries are accidents.

When players start trying to hurt other players on purpose that is assault. Adding money to it makes it even worse.

Being on a football field doesn’t exclude you from the law. I honestly believe Payton, Williams, and any people involved in this scheme should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

If I put bounties on people’s heads in the real world I would be in jail. Why should sports be any different?

I have lost all of the little respect I had for Payton and the Saints franchise. I hope Payton never coaches another game in the NFL, though that will never happen. Anyone involved in this scheme should be banned from the NFL forever.

Goodell said punishments for two-dozen defensive players are still come and that actions by all involved are “totally unacceptable.”

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities,” Goodell said during a press conference. “No one is above the game or the rules that govern it.”

Targeted players included quarterbacks Aaron Rogers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. “Knock-outs” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.

This whole thing absolutely disgusts me. I’m not offended often, but this kind of conduct is not acceptable in professional sports.

Goodell was right to come down hard, but he should have come down harder. Not only did Williams and Payton encourage these activities, when they were finally caught, they lied about it to NFL officials.

The league chastised Payton for choosing to “falsely deny that the program existed,” and for trying to “encourage the false denials by instructing assistants to `make sure our ducks are in a row.”

I already dislike the Saints, but if Payton is still coaching the team in 2013 my hatred will reach a new level. How can we trust a guy who allowed players to be paid for hurting other players and then when he was caught lied about it?

Payton is scum and always will be in my book.

Hats off to Goodell for handling this situation with historic penalties. I just wish he would have went further.